Fragrance of Dreams

Fran­cis Kurkd­jian, the nose be­hind scores of best-sell­ing scents for luxury fash­ion brands, shares how he cre­ated Nina Ricci’s lat­est per­fume, an ex­otic po­tion de­signed to evoke fem­i­nine sen­su­al­ity called L’ex­tase

Hong Kong Tatler - - Beauty -

Didy­oube­comeaper­fumer by­chance­or­w­a­sity­our call­ing? Af­ter a short-lived ca­reer as a clas­si­cal ballet dancer, I wanted to pur­sue haute cou­ture to con­tinue my fam­ily his­tory—my ma­ter­nal grand­fa­ther was a tai­lor and my pa­ter­nal grand­fa­ther was a wed­ding dress designer.

How­ever, I read an ar­ti­cle that pro­filed var­i­ous per­fumers when I was 14 and it was a rev­e­la­tion. I dis­cov­ered that there were real peo­ple be­hind the cre­ation of perfumes and that it is a very spe­cial craft. I de­cided that this would be my ca­reer. I started to re­search per­fume schools in France and abroad. I wrote to var­i­ous luxury and fragrance com­pa­nies to ob­tain more in­for­ma­tion about it. Fi­nally, an ex­ec­u­tive at Lancôme an­swered my let­ter and told me about ISIPCA, the per­fumer school in Ver­sailles. I ap­plied when I was 20, af­ter ob­tain­ing a mas­ter’s de­gree in science, and I grad­u­ated in 1992.

Whatisy­our­source in­spi­ra­tion? My in­spi­ra­tion is not driven by raw ma­te­ri­als. I fo­cus on a gen­eral feel­ing and then I try to en­vi­sion the fi­nal im­age for the fragrance. I dream up my fragrance and only then do I start writ­ing the for­mula.

How can you cre­ate some­thing, when you don’t know what you want to say? A painter uses colour, a mu­si­cian uses notes. As a per­fumer, I use smell. For me, it all starts with the work­ing name of the ol­fac­tory con­cept. For Nina Ricci, it was Muskissima. It sums up what I want to say with my per­fume. It’s like the ti­tle of a book, or the name of a paint­ing. It gives me a guide­line, a cre­ative path to fol­low. How­wouldy­oude­scribe th­is­fra­grance?whatare the­in­gre­di­ents? L’ex­tase is an emo­tion, an evo­ca­tion of fem­i­nine de­sire. I cre­ated the fragrance around two ac­cords/blends that chase and echo one an­other. Barely Rose is built around a bou­quet of white pe­tals, high­lighted by nat­u­ral roses and pink pep­per­corns. Musky Shadow has notes of ben­zoin Siam, a type of ben­zoin resin, and Vir­ginia cedar, sub­tly caught up in a breath of musk and am­ber.

Thi­sisy­our­first­time work­ing­with­n­ina Ricci.whatwerey­our im­pres­sion­soft­he­brand pri­or­tothe­p­ro­ject? Nina Ricci brings back mem­o­ries of my child­hood spent in Rue Jean Gou­jon, and the flow­ered dresses by Ger­ard Pi­part, as well as the first ball gowns of the young debu­tantes.

Whatis­thebest­wayto ap­plyfra­grance? You should put on fragrance wher­ever you want or feels right, whether on your skin or on your cloth­ing. I am com­pletely against rules.

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